Discussion Paper

Job Polarization in the United States: A Widening Gap and Shrinking Middle

Abstract: Over recent decades, the U.S. workforce has undergone a dramatic restructuring in response to changes in technology, trade, and consumption patterns. Some sectors, such as health care, have expanded, while others, such as manufacturing, have contracted. These changes have altered the composition of the workforce, leading to a phenomenon often referred to as “job polarization,” an important factor contributing to economic inequality in the nation. In this post, we show that the wage gap between high- and low-paid occupations has widened over the past three decades. Further, we show that the share of jobs in both high- and low-paying occupations has grown, leaving a shrinking middle.

Keywords: wage gap; employment growth; job polarization;

JEL Classification: J00;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Liberty Street Economics

Publication Date: 2011-11-21

Number: 20111121